A Cook County judge on Thursday upheld the firing of a Chicago police officer for his role in the alleged cover-up of police actions in the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Judge Sophia Hall ruled the Chicago Police Board made a sound decision in dismissing Officer Ricardo Viramontes last year for making statements inconsistent with the dashcam video of Officer Jason Van Dyke’s shooting of the teen.
Attorney Tom Needham says Viramontes is disappointed by the ruling.
“One of the things that’s disheartening about this case is that the sanctions that were imposed on all the officers involved in this, it seems like the higher you were in rank the less likely it was that you’d suffer some severe sanctions,” Needham said. “The people who paid with their careers were the lowest ranking people. Something about that just seems unfair.”
Viramontes is accused of making false statements to the lead detective on the scene of McDonald’s shooting and during his disciplinary hearing before the police board in April 2019. As documented in the detective's reports, Viramontes said McDonald turned toward Van Dyke and Officer Joseph Walsh before Van Dyke shot and killed the teenager.
Last month judges upheld the firings of Sgt. Stephen Franko and Officer Daphne Sebastian. A fourth officer, Janet Mondragon, is awaiting a judge’s decision in an appeal of her dismissal.
The police board fired the officers after determining they exaggerated the threat posed by McDonald in order to justify Van Dyke’s actions, and determined they approved or filed false or misleading police reports.
Three other officers, including Van Dyke’s partner, were arrested on criminal conspiracy charges, but a judge later dismissed the charges against all of them.
Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a six-year sentence.